Yesterday was Mother’s Day.
I don’t understand. After 40 some years, I still hope that someone would surprise me, go out of their way to do something, anything, extra special for me, wait on me hand and foot, pamper me, just for one day make me the priority. I am feeling that selfish twinge again.
When I was little, I always had dreams of surprise birthday parties, or surprise trips, or anything that would be grand and exciting for my birthday. But, alas, my birthday was smack dab in the middle of summer. And living in a military community, my friends were either on vacation, or living off base and we couldn’t get together. I was always left to have a very small birthday with my mom and dad. Eventually, my birthday became just another day.
When I got into high school and started getting interested in boys, Valentine’s Day was special. The schools would sell flowers that the guys could buy for their girlfriend or secret love. There were so many girls that got at least one flower. Me, usually I had none. My boyfriends were either short-lived, or non-existent. I wasn’t popular, nor exceptionally beautiful. And most guys were not very “creatively romantic.” The older I got, the more I saw that it was really nothing more than the retailers trying to guilt everyone into buying some overpriced thing for their love and if they didn’t get the biggest, most expensive thing then they really didn’t love that person. I resolved myself to the fact that Valentine’s Day was just another day. And I was OK with this because, really, you should be loved and cherished all the days of the year without being made to feel guilty.
Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter, again being a military family involved a lot of distant friends and family. They’ve always been a tight-knit holiday celebrated between me, my mom, and dad. We lived so far from their family that travel was way too expensive. I can only remember one Christmas with my Mom’s Aunt and Uncle in Washington state. The only time we got to see my mom and dad’s parents and siblings were when we were on our way overseas. Every 4 years doesn’t really make you close. So our holidays were always just the three of us. But it was always about the family being together.
Maybe it was living in England. Maybe it was being a close-knit family. Somehow, I developed my ideal image of Christmas, the kind you see in a Thomas Kinkade painting. A quaint little neighborhood. A blanket of virgin snow. A single trail down the center of the road that leads to the horse-drawn carriage. Christmas lights and decorations lining the streets and warm the houses. Everyone smiling and wishing passersby a Merry Christmas, helping those who needed help, and giving a small gift of friendship in any form. Friends and family circling round the fireplace drinking hot apple cider, singing Christmas carols, and sharing in the warmth of the love.
My heart and soul must live in a different time period because with each passing Christmas, I realize there’s no more magic in it. It makes me incredibly sad and frustrated. I want the magic. I want the love and warmth.
Because of the issues my husband faces daily. The pain, the depression, the forgetfulness, and everything else that comes along with my wounded warrior, my ideal Christmas never unfolds. Most of the time we don’t put up decorations. And if we do, it’s what I can put up myself, or with the help of my son. There’s no desire in my husband anymore. Every day is just about getting through the pain.
There have been so many family holidays and get-togethers that he’s missed because of the pain. I know it tears him apart. Now. But there was a time that those auto-thoughts kicked in and I wondered if he disliked my family, or he hated doing anything with me, or he just hated going outside. It took several years, and a lot of communication with him, to kick those auto-thoughts to the curb. Even now, I still have to tell them who’s really boss in my head. Some days are better than others.
So, yesterday was Mother’s Day.
The one day everyone raves about what their husbands and children do for them. Breakfast in bed. Homemade cards and crafts. Surprise visits. Dinner out or at the very least, cooked by anyone other than the Mom. Now that I’m in a community with other Veteran Caregivers, I see a different side of Mother’s Day. Many feel the same as I do. Left out. Just another day. Wishing that someone would make them the priority, or even an effort. But there were so many other posts out there where their veteran was blowing up, arguing, ignoring, leaving. These ladies were feeling that they weren’t important or loved or even recognized. Their day seemed so much worse than mine.
It made me take a step back and look at my day. Yes, sure I woke up like every other day. I laid in bed until TheBoy got up. TheHubs was already awake, downstairs watching TV after a night of insomnia. Yes, sure I had to remind both my son and my husband to wish me happy MomMom’s Day. But, hey, I got hugs and kisses. Yes, I made breakfast. And yes, hubs went to bed soon after we woke up. I managed to wake him up around noon and asked if he wanted to go with us to get groceries and TheBoy a new set of swim trunks. His pain level was pretty bad and I gave him two hours to see if it would calm down. Nope. As per usual, it remained high. So TheBoy and I went out by ourselves.
I had those bad thoughts, those selfish thoughts again. But I didn’t let them get to me. The guilt tried to creep in, too. But I pushed it aside and did what I needed to do. I did do something bad, though. I bought some cookies, some donuts, and also the items to make strawberry shortcake. I also bought Subway for dinner. Hey, it was Me Day, right?! 😛 I wanted to go to the salon and cut off all my hair but decided I wouldn’t put the boy through that. I also wanted to look for a new swimsuit for me too. That whole ordeal, for both of us, was a disaster. But we did have a little fun with hats (in which I bought him one).
When I came home, TheHubs was on the Xbox. I had to bring the groceries in and put them away without his help. I understand that playing the Xbox does tend to allow him to forget his pain temporarily. I’m going to be honest with myself, and with you: I was a little upset when his match was over and he didn’t help out. I was a little upset that he didn’t take time out to eat with us. I’m not entirely sure why I was exhausted after 3 hours of grocery shopping. So I went upstairs and laid down on the bed to watch some shows since he was downstairs playing his game. Yup, just a typical day for us.
While I was laying there, alone, I went over my day and all the posts I read regarding Mother’s Day. And you know what? I need to let go of those unrealistic expectations, those magical dreams of the perfect holiday, and just enjoy the small things. Count them and watch them pile up. Soon, it will be a HUGE mountain of positive.
My husband’s alive. He loves me. My son is alive. He loves me. He made a card with love for me. We were together at the store and had fun trying on hats. We were able to enjoy some good food. And we made it through another day. I’d call that a win.
So when another holiday rolls around, I just need to sit back and enjoy what I have, even if hubs can’t participate fully. Because, you know what? I’m loved and cherished every day. Every holiday is just another day. I am thankful for what I have.